What is the most memorable gift you have ever received?
How appropriate and yet open-ended a prompt for Christmas Day. So many answers, depending on the criteria used. Even just within the boundaries of "memorable" lie all kinds of definitions, yielding any number of possible answers.
Some years you get exactly something you had on your list. Sometimes it is a total, wonderful surprise you had not even thought of yourself. And it need not be a large or expensive gift, either. One year the best gift I got was one simple Greatest Hits CD filled with songs I loved.
I am going to go, though, with a gift that required the most thought, and hence is the most memorable in that regard. It is a ball point pen.
Not just any ball point pen, though. It is a ball point pen fashioned out of an antler. And antler from the final deer my father ever hunted. My father died when I was seven years old.
Mom had it done. While my father was not obsessed with hunting, he did enjoy it. I do not hunt, but always think of my father when I think of hunting. So a connection with that aspect of my father's recreational life, for which I was far too young when he died, represents a nice connection with my father.
It was especially thoughtful because it was a pen. It could have been a figurine, or a lamp or something, and would have retained it's sentimental value in my eyes. Yet Mom in her wisdom chose to make it a pen. Practical, because I am often looking for a nice pen with which to do certain thing. And symbolic, because being a writer, I make frequent use of a pen. Not to write drafts, but certainly to write notes, and outlines and the occasional letter. The pen is too special to carry with me all the time, as I fear I would lose it. Yet I don't want it to be an icon, and hence too precious to be used. So I use it for writing I do within the safe confines of my room. Outlines. Letters. Some miscellaneous planning and listing. The exciting and the mundane. The point being to make regular use of something that in some tangential way connects me to my father and his leisure.
It had been out of ink for a while, and mom replaced the cartridge for Christmas this year, and gave it to me early so I could use the pen again. It's nice to have it back, and since it is a gift from my mother, it will in some ways always connect me to both of my parents.
Merry Christmas to everyone.